Exploring social and infrastructural factors affecting open burning of municipal solid waste (MSW) in Indian cities: A comparative case study of three neighborhoods of Delhi

Anu Ramaswami, Navneet Kaur Baidwan, Ajay Singh Nagpure

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Open municipal solid waste (MSW)-burning is a major source of particulate matter emissions in developing world cities. Despite a legal ban, MSW-burning is observed ubiquitously in Indian cities with little being known about the factors shaping it. This study seeks to uncover social and infrastructural factors that affect MSW-burning at the neighborhood level. We couple physical assessments of the infrastructure provision and the MSW-burning incidences in three different neighborhoods of varying socio-economic status in Delhi, with an accompanying study of the social actors (interviews of waste handlers and households) to explore the extent to which, and potential reasons why, MSW-burning occurs. The observed differences in MSW-burning incidences range from 130 km-2 day-1 in low-income to 30 km-2 day-1 in the high-income areas. However, two high-income areas neighborhoods with functional infrastructure service also showed statistical differences in MSW-burning incidences. Our interviews revealed that, while the waste handlers were aware of the health risks associated with MSW-burning, it was not a high priority in the context of the other difficulties they faced. The awareness of the legal ban on MSW-burning was low among both waste handlers and households. In addition to providing infrastructure for waste pickup, informal restrictions from residents and neighborhood associations can play a significant role in restricting MSW-burning at the neighborhood scale. A more efficient management of MSW requires a combined effort that involves interplay of both social and infrastructural systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1164-1172
Number of pages9
JournalWaste Management and Research
Volume34
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Pollution

Keywords

  • air pollution
  • interviews
  • Municipal solid waste (MSW)-burning
  • qualitative research
  • social actors
  • urban waste management

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